Politics & Other Mistakes: Flushing away a bad year

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Time to catch up on some of the weirdness you may have missed as 2020 was circling the toilet bowl. The following stories are all true, although, in any reasonable year, they wouldn’t be.

The Maine Policy Institute (formerly the Maine Heritage Policy Center until it changed its name after realizing that nothing it did had anything to do with anybody’s heritage) is a fiscally conservative think tank that claims to be nonpartisan.

If you believe that, I have an underground bunker suitable for housing you and 50,000 of your closest friends available for sale in Robbinston, Maine. Some repairs may be needed, due to allegations of recent extreme military action. But more on that later in this column.

Back to the policy institute. For many weeks, the group has been raging about the possibility Maine would join something called the Transportation and Climate Initiative, a proposal developed by a dozen northeastern states and the District of Columbia to reduce greenhouse gases from motor vehicles. The center argued the plan would result in massive gasoline-tax increases, with the extra cash going to car-charging stations rather than road repairs.

In a March posting on its Maine Wire website, institute mouthpiece Jacob Posik complained that Democratic Gov. Janet Mills and her “obnoxious clean energy agenda” would force the state to either accept the initiative or impose a gas-tax hike on its own.

In December, Mills announced Maine wouldn’t join the pact, citing as a major reason its likely impact on the gas tax. A Democrat had done exactly what the Republican-leaning think tank wanted her to do.

Was the institute happy about that? Of course not.

In a press release, the group’s executive director (and radio talk-show host) Matt Gagnon whined, “Gov. Mills should not unilaterally make this decision on behalf of the people of Maine.” Instead, Gagnon wanted the Legislature, controlled by Democrats, to vote on it.

Then, if the initiative won approval, he’d be happy because he could once again blame the Dems for doing what he didn’t want to be done.

Speaking of disappointed right-wingers, anti-gay activist Paul Volle died on Dec. 13 in Centerburg, Ohio, at age 82. During the 1990s, Volle headed the Christian Coalition of Maine, and with his allies such as Linda Bean, Caroline Cosby, and Michael Heath, thwarted efforts to pass local and state civil-rights legislation protecting the LGBTQ population.

Volle was rarely subtle in expressing his hatred of homosexuals. In 1998, he told the Washington Post that a gay rights law would “denigrate the civil rights of blacks and other minorities.” That’s a somewhat unlikely concern coming from a guy who once identified himself in a letter explaining his refusal to testify before the state ethics commission as a “Free, White, Sovereign Male.”

In 1999, he put out a pamphlet called “The Gay Agenda” in which he claimed that homosexual activity caused brain shrinkage and that gays “bridge the natural reluctance to come in contact with human waste.” There was worse stuff, but I’ll let that crap rest with Volle’s corpse.

It’s said we should speak no ill of the dead. In Volle’s case, his record does that all by itself.

Time to get back to that underground bunker in Robbinston (population: 550). In early December, the U.S. Geological Survey reported a small earthquake occurred in this remote Washington County town. Nobody hurt. No damage reported. But in this year of chronic lunacy, even something so trivial can be distorted for political purposes.

According to a story in the Lewiston Sun Journal, shortly after the quake, New Jersey conspiracy theorist Hal Turner used his radio broadcast to announce that the shock waves came not from natural causes but from a U.S. military plane dropping a 30,000-pound bomb on an “underground facility with Chinese troops.” Turner claimed 50,000 commie soldiers died in the blast.

“I am the only media outlet reporting this,” he said.

Probably for good reason.

Although, it could be that the Trump administration just didn’t want to count those foreigners in the Census.

Will rationality return? Email your crazed theory to aldiamon@herniahill.net.